4 Effective Treatments For Torticollis In Children

torticollis in children

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Torticollis, commonly known as wry neck, is a dystonic condition. It is defined by an unusual placement of the head and neck. Generally, the head and neck is tilted asymmetrically.

The term ‘Torticollis’ is derived from two different Latin words. To simply understand its meaning, let us first know the two Latin words it consists of – ‘Tortus’ means twisted and ‘Collum’ means neck.

Causes Of Torticollis In Children:

A lot of times, Torticollis is found to be congenital (present right at birth). This can happen in the womb itself if the fetus is in the wrong position. Here are some other factors that cause this condition:

  • It can be inherited from parents or other family members.
  • Damaged neck muscles, pulled neck muscles or torn ligaments of the neck can cause wry neck.
  • Improper blood supply to neck can be one of the reasons.
  • Many a times, this condition is developed slowly over a period of time.
  • Sleeping in the wrong position in the night may also cause Torticollis in ch

How To Identify Torticollis In Children?

Most children who develop torticollis might face difficulties with their vision and hearing. Their face may also appear more flattened or unbalanced. Here are few symptoms and signs that will help you identify whether your child suffers from torticollis or not.

  • Persistent inability to move neck normally.
  • A constant pain in the neck.
  • A swelling in the muscles of the neck.
  • One shoulder higher than the other one.
  • Constant headache.
  • Tilted chin to one side.

[ Read : Headache In Children ]


If you find the above-mentioned symptoms in your child, take him to the doctor without any delay. Here is how the problem is diagnosed:

  • First, your doctor would carry out a thorough medical history check on your child. You must disclose about the injury, if any, in the neck area.
  • The doctor will run a few physical examinations on your child. This will help him recognise and determine the cause of torticollis in your child.
  • After this he may order an Electromyogram (EMG) to be done. This will further help the doctor to know the muscles that are actually affected to have caused the problem.
  • Other common tests like MRI Scan and X-rays might also be carried out to find out if the symptoms are being caused due to structural exertion.

[ Read : Nursemaid’s Elbow In Children ]

Torticollis Treatment In Children:

An early detection of Torticollis in children can prevent the related symptoms and problems caused from getting worse.

1. Congenital:

If the wry neck is congenital in nature, it can be treated by stretching of the neck muscle. This must be started soon after the birth.

If this treatment is started within months of birth, it can prove to be really successful.

2. Acquired Torticollis:

If the problem is not congenital but acquired, there are various ways to treat it – depending on the cause.

  • Traction
  • Stretching exercises
  • Heat application
  • Massaging
  • Physiotherapy
  • Neck braces

3. Medicines:

A good and planned course of medicines also help treat torticollis in children. These medicines might include a combination of:

  • Muscle relaxants
  • Pain killers
  • Injections that need to be shot every few months’ time.
  • Other special medicines to manage and control the tremors that are experiences in Parkinson’s disease.

4. Surgery:

When any of the above-mentioned treatments does not work, your doctor might suggest going in for an appropriate surgery. There are various types of surgeries:

  • A surgery to cut muscles or nerves.
  • A surgery to lengthen neck muscles.
  • A surgery to help fuse abnormal vertebrae.
  • In case of severe dystonia, a surgery for deep brain stimulation might also be done to interrupt the nerve signals.

[ Read : Back Pain In Children ]

Long Term Care For Torticollis:

An acquired torticollis can be easily treated, if identified and treated right on time. However, if the cause is congenital or some severe form of torticollis, it can affect one’s overall health majorly. It can intervene with one’s daily routine like:

  • Difficulty or inability in driving.
  • Swelling of neck muscles.
  • Trouble performing day-to-day tasks.
  • Chronic pain and many more.

Such chronic conditions often send the patient into depression. And when the sufferer is a child, it gets all the more difficult for him.

  • Try and help your child build a positive attitude towards the problem and help him cope actively.
  • The time duration needed to cure the problem depends largely on the cause of torticollis.

[ Read : Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis ]

For a parent, any problem that affects their child troubles them. We understand it is truly devastating to see your child go through any trouble. But keeping faith always helps.

We hope the information shared here proves helpful in combating torticollis in your child. Please share your feedback with us.

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